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As businesses work their difficult way out of the Covid19 crisis, they’re finding data has become more important than ever before in making decisions that tackle both survival and long-term prosperity.
Most are tackling huge considerations including home working, staff wellbeing and a reduced overall office space footprint.
Any back to work strategy has two initial phases: the immediate safe return to the office, and the medium-term workplace environment when a vaccine is available.
These will be followed by phase 3, the long-term role of the office – and although that future is still unpredictable, important steps need to start soon, that create a real estate plan that is robust yet flexible enough to respond to the evolving workplace environment.
It’s no small task. And the data analysis you need will differ at each stage – so what data analysis do you need right now?
The key questions you need to ask are:
1. Historic data – however this has been captured – is critical to an informed perspective of how you are using your office facilities.
Evaluate this data:
Understand why some desks are the most used.
Investigate utilization metrics, including use at different times of the day and week.
2. Desk use by department
If your desks have panels or QR codes for check in/out, analyze desk use by department, time of day and day of week.
To meet low density occupancy plans, different teams will probably need to work on different days, so this information will help with space allocation based on actual use in the pre-Covid period. A floorplan-based approach to analysis is a good start as it helps to visualize patterns around different space types and other utilization metrics.
This floorplate provides important information on which spaces in a building are frequently used. It is also possible to get utilization data for past dates, ideal for space planning and decisions around which floors to use.
Real time availabilty of space like desks and rooms is provided using sensor technology. In addition, a range of presence sensing can be used for check in/out so that there is an end to end workflow, with real time data is the key metric to support facility utilization analysis.
3. Look at meeting room utilization analysis next
Larger spaces are unlikely to be used – meetings will be smaller, with more people joining remotely. However, social distancing will require new capacities assigned to rooms for different styles of layout, so here a careful look at room
occupancy data is essential.
This graph provides information on meeting room occupancy as well as utilization, ideal when considering meeting room reconfiguration options
4. Measuring patterns of space usage
Next, you need to consider space usage to make the right decision on new capacity limits and which rooms to reoccupy. Investigate these two main data sets.
The most relevant data to consider is the most and least used resources.
Then you also need to consider the critical usage patterns for different space types. See the charts below for this second data set.
These graphs support decisions on which spaces to reconfigure based on historical use, so maybe repurpose the least used spaces?
These graphs provide invaluable insights into the types of meetings held, cancellation patterns and the mix between types of space, which may need to change in any reconfiguration plans.
5. Service delivery
Next, consider service delivery, particularly catering, where there will be significant changes. Start by understanding what services have typically been requested by different type and sizes of meetings.
Self-service is one of the main changes and in many cases no catering service may be offered, but staff are encouraged to order F&B using a mobile app-based order and delivery service, potentially using local restaurants rather than in-house catering facilities.
Catering reports (see below) offer valuable insights into how data can be used to take decisions on both the service offering and the delivery approach, factoring thorough cleaning arrangements into the mix.
These graphs indicate how the nature of service delivery, as this may need to change with lower meeting room utilization and the demand for more flex space. The service mix has a significant impact on real estate operating costs.
The Rendezvous Service tracker is an example of an invaluable tool for the FM team to manage service delivery
The Mobile Service Delivery App (above) provides invaluable information to manage service delivery as well as inform departments about key activities; delivering F&B, AV service provision, equipment recovery and urgent cleaning notifications.
6. Building access
Probably the most critical aspect of delivering a safe workplace environment is to manage reception areas and other high traffic density areas efficiently.
The data to support this is usually gathered by your meeting and visitor management solution, supplemented by people counting sensor-based technology.
By triangulating between these two data sets, important decisions can be taken, and a set of business rules created to manage visitor arrival times, circulation within the building and also speedy host notification, which will minimize the risk of people congregating in larger groups.
This visitor analytics graph gives invaluable visitor data that can be used to plan for the new workplace environment.
This graph helps reception to better plan visitor arrivals including provision for host notification and fast check in on a mobile device to speed up the processing of new arrivals. It drives strategies around host notification, fast meet and greet policies and scheduling visitor arrivals linked to meetings in a proactive manner.
7. Accurate real time data is critical to track and trace activity
There are three main data sets:
Start with the space booking system, evaluate what is available, then complement this data with information from other systems such as visitor management, building management and even digital signage and presence sensing technologies.
The data sets below could offer valuable insights to plan your track and track implementation plan
As businesses move to a new workplace environment, armed with better data around actual building occupancy, many important decisions will need to be taken.
These decisions will vary significantly by company, based on staff work patterns and actual workplace density, which is likely to include greater working from home, more remote collaboration and probably changes in the way meeting space is used.
The data you collate from the immediate return to work data project will provide valuable insights for actions you take for the medium-term perspective.
Based on what can be anticipated as a result of the pandemic, several important questions will require data support, to inform your decisions on space planning.
If a vaccine is available, and constraints lessen, here are the big questions to consider:
All this analysis is possible using the well-honed data analysis you put in place during the Immediate Return to Work phase, with some nuances; technology support, space re-configuration and the overall footprint required to support a different mix of home and office based working.
With all that has transpired since lockdown, the real estate team will be much better placed to focus on the “big” space decisions using utilization data related to the new normal, whatever that normal might look like.
This data set helps you to identify spaces that are not being well-utilised to inform decisions about which areas can be reconfigured to assist social distancing and safe working.
Hard as it is to imagine right now, there will be business as usual at some point – even without a vaccine, the world of business will find ever-inventive ways to work.
Homeworking may remain a big part of the working week; workplaces may be able to downsize because of that or might have to remain large to accommodate long-term social distancing.
We just don’t know. But we do know that business must go on, employees must be protected, and the focus will always remain on efficiency, productivity and wellbeing, and on keeping operational costs down.
In this changing landscape, data will provide a transparently trustworthy guide. Moving ahead without it will be like stumbling down a dark path.
So whatever stage your business has reached on your phased return to work, I would urge you to beef up your data capture and analysis capabilities immediately. It’s a sound investment that will never stop providing benefits.
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